Young Agrarians

Johanna Divine
Young people plant the seeds for a sustainable future in this portrait of organic farming in California.

More About Young Agrarians from Director Johanna Divine

Young Agrarians was created as a tool to introduce young people to a new way of looking at agriculture and food production. The project grew out of several concerns: the demise of family farms in America, the rising average age of farmers (65% of U.S. farmers are over 55), and the fact that young people are unaware of the many opportunities in sustainable agriculture and local food systems.

Shot during the spring and summer of 2003 on a road trip from Palmer, Alaska, to Tumacacori, Arizona, the film relates the stories of small-scale farmers, ranchers and market gardeners of all ages and backgrounds who have been drawn by their love for the land to undertake the most noble of occupations - growing food.

This film expresses both the aesthetic and ethic of small-scale, sustainable farming. America is home to the quintessential industrial farm model, featuring the lonely farmer perched atop multi-zillion dollar farm equipment spreading chemical fertilizers on a 10,000 acre farm. I wanted young people to see something new, to see other young people excited about reconnecting to their roots and to the agricultural history of America. The people in this film have found that growing food is something a little more community-minded, healthful, and reasonable in scale than the industrialized farming we are so aware of today. It is what Wendell Berry calls "the complex accomplishment of knowledge, cultural memory, skill, self-mastery, good sense and fundamental decency - the high and indispensable art - for which we probably can find no better name than 'good farming.'"

The most rewarding aspect of production was the opportunity to get to know the individuals who opened their homes, farms, and fields to me. The energy of young people like Dove Miller from the Food for Lane County Youth Farm in Eugene, Oregon, who has since started college; and Kelly Humphry, a fourth generation family farmer from Illinois who moved to California to study organic agriculture and start her own farm is truly inspiring. Most of these folks are still working the same land, getting ready for another busy season. I wanted this film to encourage people to get to know where their food comes from and to support the good farmers who grow it.

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